News, Analysis & UpdatesApril 3, 2009

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Fallout: Belated April Fools?

By Jeff LaGrassa

On Thursday April 2, the Chicago Bears swung a deal for their best franchise QB in decades, acquiring disgruntled QB Jay Cutler from the Denver Broncos in exchange for first round picks in both this year’s and next year’s draft, along with a 2009 third rounder, while also getting a fifth rounder. This blockbuster trade was quickly confirmed by multiple media sources as no belated April Fools joke, and the move has domino effects impacting the fantasy fortunes of multiple players in the league. Let’s break it down and look at the affected parties.

Stock Up

Matt Forte

Defenses will need to respect the pass and won’t be able to stack the line of scrimmage against him. He’s now arguably the #2 pick in PPR leagues, #3 in non-PPR leagues, behind only Adrian Peterson and Michael Turner.

Greg Olsen

He’s built in the mold of Tony Scheffler whom Cutler loved in Denver. Olsen is now arguably a top 10 TE pick and will be a nice steal late in re-draft league drafts, if you can get him as the 8th-10th tight end off the board.

Earl Bennett

Sleeper alert: As a freshman at Vanderbilt, Bennett had a HUGE season with Jay Cutler at QB. Bennett caught a stellar 79 receptions for 876 yards with 9 TDs, set a SEC freshman record in receptions, and set freshman school records in receptions, receiving yards, TD receptions, and catches in a game. Now reunited with Cutler in the NFL, Bennett will be given the opportunity to win the starting wide receiver job opposite WR Devin Hester.

Bears Defense

They won’t be pressured to win games for the team anymore. You have to assume that the Bears will now put a lot more points on the board, which has the chance to make opposing offenses one dimensional, which the Bears defense can take advantage of.

Chris Simms

Now given the opportunity to compete for a starting job, Simms could be a nice sleeper heading into drafts in August should he win the battle. Simms looked promising for the Bucs a few years ago but hasn’t taken meaningful snaps since September of 2006 and is a huge unknown at this point.

Kyle Orton

Like Simms, I think the jury is very much still out on Orton. Some say he’s a “system guy” and could excel with elite WRs like Marshall and Royal. Be careful, as there’s also no guarantee he starts for the Broncos — the role could be won in training camp by Simms, a veteran free agent addition at QB (Byron Leftwich? Jeff Garcia?) or a rookie QB selected by Denver in the upcoming NFL Draft. Still, the WR upgrade pushes his stock up a bit for now.

Stock Down

Jay Cutler

Without elite WRs like Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal, Cutler’s fantasy prospects are not as strong. Denver’s swiss cheese defense necessitated a pass-happy offense as they were usually playing from behind. With an elite RB and defense in Chicago, Cutler could settle into more of a caretaker role than he saw in Denver.

Broncos WRs and TEs

No matter the starting QB in Denver this year, it’s a significant dropoff from Cutler. Downgrade Brandon Marshall (who just had hip surgery and will likely be suspended anyway), Eddie Royal, Jabar Gaffney, Brandon Stokley, and Tony Scheffler. Even if the Denver defense significantly improves from where they were last year, the Denver offense will be giving the opposing offenses short fields all day long.

Jeff LaGrassa is a Steelers fan and a Cafe regular. He is also a scholar of Grateful Dead music and enjoys breaking it down as one would with fantasy football statistics. He also enjoys disc golf, skiing, and playing the electric bass. You can catch him posting in the Cafe forums as The Lung.
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